It has been hard to log on and write lately…mainly because I am having trouble with the fact that the half-dozen posts I have in draft form are so negative that I cannot publish them because I know that the cup is never completely empty (I have had the JT years permanently removed from my brain).
So, in an effort to better relieve the pain, here are some words…just words. No sticks…no stones…just words.
I was reading a recent post from my good friend and defender of America, Col. Keller, so I am going to take the liberty to start with two words borrowed from his post, but stated no less than 30 times in my half dozen, non-posted posts for this blog.
Frustration: It is hard to watch this team, almost always knowing what is about to happen before it happens. I am reminded of the teams in the late ’80s who every time they are in position to make something great happen, they would shoot themselves in the foot, badly. That 97 yard INT for a TD is just one example of this.
Embarrassment: With everything to play for and in front of another sell-out crowd, our team made mistakes that are more akin to those made in a spring game or at worst a first game, not the 9th game of the season. That we made fundamental errors and that some of our coaches seemingly cannot make on-field adjustments during the game, it just is embarrassing to watch at times.
Disappointing: Now, clearly, the most disappointed
people around have to be the players and coaches, but with the defense playing well enough for last year’s offense to win many of this season’s games, it is just disappointing that a chance to get back to the CUSA title game has pretty much evaporated with Saturday’s disappointing effort from our team.
Concerned: I am officially starting to worry about our staff. Not ready to join the growing number that believes we are in a downward spiral, but it seems that our coaching staff is not a group that can anticipate and learn in advance, but rather, needs to have our weaknesses exposed in a loss before addressing for next game. That leads to a lot of losses. Game-planning appears to be hit or miss…we always work on “ourselves” which is fine, but we do have to play opponents and knowing how to attack and defend to an oppone
nt’s strengths are important elements to the game-plan, IMO.
Attrition: Last year, it was on defense. Injuries, injuries, injuries…my God, we have more than our share. But this year, it has been the offensive injuries that are killing us. We have lost our top running back, our top 3 receivers (Lewis, Hardy, Jones) for at least a couple of games if not all season, two centers, two guards, and have a tackle that is a walking wounded (Harner).
Uninspired: Our performances against Houston and Southern Miss show a side of this team that is worrisome. OK, I am willing to put the Houston disaster on the coaches, but not this Southern Miss game. Southern Miss is a big a rival as we have at ECU (despite the record against them) and we had an entire season on the line and our guys laid a big, huge egg. Regardless of whether or not you agree with the playing call in the red zone, a team that has the killer instinct, playing in a packed house against a rival for the division title, executes. You make the throw. You make the catch. You execute. You hit harder, you run faster. You bring attitude on every play. It was sorely lacking on Saturday.
Urgency: Not seeing urgency with the coaches and the players. With another loss, we will not improve on last year’s effort, yet, outwardly, no one seems all that upset or concerned. I hope I am just not exposed to it, but it sure seems like this team doesn’t show much concern about it.
Timing: Unfortunately, we live in a “What-have-you-done-for-me-lately” world and because of this, how we perform on the field matters in making a case for inclusion in an AQ conference. It is not everything, but it does matter and following a disappointing 2010 campaign with a medioc
re 2011 is not what we need right now. While it shouldn’t be that way, it is, despite the fact that ECU really should be a no-brainer to an AQ conference
. We are giving them the ammo.
Four: A number…four quarters = a complete game. It would be nice, at this juncture of the season, for this team to be able to put together 4 quarters consistently. When they do it, they win. Unfortunately, they have not done it often enough.
Special: Usually a term of endearment. For us, on Saturday, there was nothing endearing about it. There is no excuse to ever get a punt blocked or give up a punt return for a TD. No excuse…ever. Our STs are not so special and we need to get it fixed quickly. It is an attitude and you need 11 with that attitude. We must have 11 with that, find them.
Streak: No, I do not mean the streaker at the USM game, but rather the opportunity that our team has to finish the season on a win-streak, taking down UTEP, UCF, and Marshall. A 3-0 run would likely net a bowl bid and would do even more for our program’s future by securing a winning season and giving the team something to build on for 2012. And as for that streaker, he should be sent to the front lines in Afghanistan for a day or two and maybe he would develop a measure of respect for the men and women he disrespected during what should have been a celebration of their service to preserve our freedom. What a POS. Apologies to the familieswho are constantly burdened by the behaviors of these types of yahoos.
OK, I want to ensure that everyone understands that I am not completely negative on this team. There is a lot to appreciate here and there are some good words that describe those things.
50,000: Another number…a big number. Kudos over and again to the Pirates fans…they are doing their part big-time. Keep it up guys and gals, it is our saving grace…truly outstanding.
Youth: One of the things that has pulled me back from the ledge with our current staff is what I am seeing with the young guys that they brought in. On offense, Justin Hardy (for the most part) has been everything that OC Lincoln Riley advertised. Reese Wiggins looks to be a fantastic receiver as does Danny Webster. Torrance Hunt is a nice shift of gears at RB. Will Simmons is a beast. Elsawi was a nice pick-up at guard. On defense, Jeremy Grove has been just what the doctor ordered. Magz is great. Derrell Johnson and Matt Milner are going to be good. Jake Geary has a great nose for the ball. Tudor is pretty good in there too. Though some of these guys are holdover recruits, it is good to see them thriving in this defense and offense.
Touchdown: Congrats to Reese Wiggins…what a great TD to put on the books for your first career receiving TD. He looks good…hope he can keep it up.
Tragic: If Lance Lewis is out for the rest of the season, I feel horrible for that young man. He is a great receiver and deserves to be a drafted WR. Hopefully the NFL teams have seen enough and he will heal up. He deserves a great future.
Redemption: Defensive Coordinator Brian Mitchell has really proven he knows what he is doing. Yes, the defense is not stellar, but the improvement is undeniable. He has really stepped it up and I am looking forward to seeing this defense – which is very young – grow into a dominating one in the next two seasons.
Unsung: Sticking with defense. That Jeremy Grove and Daniel Drake are among the team’s top tacklers is a result of the play of the defensive line. Specifically of note, Michael Brooks. He has been not only a beast all season, tying up two and sometimes three lineman on a given play, but he is so far (knock on wood) healthy for an entire year. Man, he is going to be a monster next season. Johnson is also looking to be a beast on the end, too.
Patchwork: The offensive line has been anything but stable. Perhaps the philosophy to only play five will give way to a different one going forward. IMO, we have found some good young OLs, but are asking an awful lot right now of these young guys. With a 3rd string center, a converted guard, and 2nd team tackle and a hobbled other tackle, it is unbelievable that our offense is still putting up 400 yards a game. What doesn’t kill us, will make us stronger. This unit should be good and deep in 2012.
Connors: Thank God for Coach Connors. One season in and it is noticeable how much stronger our guys are. When he gets their mental sets locked in (across the full team), we will see big strides regardless of X and O issues. I am almost more excited to get the off-season started to prepare the youngsters for next season.
Chip: It is times like these that the ECU Chip is most important. With the AQ conferences indifferent to us, our own sister universities hostile to us, and the team not playing as well as it can/should, it is up to the Pirate fans to stay consistent and rally to this team’s support. The chip leads to hope and hope re-ignites the passion when times are tough. Let’s all do a chip-check and bury any feelings of quitting on this team/program.
Victory: It only takes one and hope will re-emerge eternal. Go Pirates, beat UTEP!
Please, chime in. They are only words.
Thanks – really great post. Can I add “little bro” Derek Harris to the youth list for a $1,000 Alex. Impressive player – he’s even fielding returns now and will do so against UTEP per the depth chart. I like him.
Yes…Derek has been definitely noteworthy this season. What a great benefit for the program getting Dwayne’s brother! Hard worker just like big bro.
Love the post; the family and I really got a kick out of you citing my comment in your post. We are certainly thinking along the same lines. I actually think this team has a lot of talent. That is what makes this all so frustrating. It is a lack of discipline and adjustments that is so maddening. Ruff seems like a great guy but I find myself missing the business-like efficiency of the last coaching staff.
I agree on the last comment. What is confusing some is that overall, Skip and Ruff have done about the same in terms of Wins (though Ruff does not have any “wow” wins yet). In fact, after year two, Ruff may have more wins. But…I firmly believe Ruff has and was left with a ton more talent that JT left Skip with (notwithstanding the state of the defense post-Skip).
I will say, give Ruff his five year…that’s fair. Maybe we will all be surprised a bit where we are against where it appears we are heading.
Thanks for reading and interacting!
Awesome post Ron. Keep up the good work.
I have noticed that this team just doesn’t seem to have that same ‘want’ or attitude that we’ve seen from past ECU teams in the Logan and Holtz era. Maybe I just feel this way because we haven’t seemed to be able to win the big games (other than NCSU) and have really been blown out in 4-5 games over the past year alone. Nonetheless, it worries me that a home-grown boy like Ruff has to get the players over to the sideline into a huddle to pump them up after nearly every quarter. They should be able to get excited about these games themselves…
Nail on the head Stephen…same concerns here. Thanks for dropping in.